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Residents lobby to bury LRT through Mount Dennis

By Fannie Sunshine

The Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) through Mount Dennis must be built underground to cut down the number of property expropriations, reduce noise and environmental impacts and increase safety by avoiding crossing to a platform in the middle of the street above ground, agreed residents who attended a Mount Dennis Community Association meeting Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Some 50 Mount Dennis residents broke into working groups to come up with lists of positives and negatives regarding building the Eglinton LRT both above and below ground. The top five suggestions/concerns will be passed along to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

The only positive to building the line above ground along Eglinton Avenue between Weston Road and Black Creek Drive seemed to be cost, as building the route underground would run an additional $100 million on top of the $4.6-billion figure for the entire line. Some residents pointed out above-ground platforms could be a safety hazard in winter and left-hand turn restrictions from the north side of Eglinton Avenue to the east could cause commuter headache.

If built underground, fewer properties would be expropriated and 92,000 square feet of park land would be saved.

“Underground would be better but either way our property is affected,” said one Mount Dennis resident, refusing to give her name. “I’ve been here 12 years in the area and I want to stay.”

Of the 100 properties directly affected by expropriation along the Eglinton LRT route, 26 full and 10 partial properties are in Mount Dennis.

Resident Mark Dieu said he’s collected nearly 100 names for a petition to build the Eglinton LRT underground and plans to submit it to the City and TTC in coming weeks.

Councillor Frances Nunziata, who represents Mount Dennis, and neighbouring ward Councillor Frank Di Giorgio, told the meeting they both support an underground route.

“My position all along has been the (Eglinton) LRT remains underground until it gets to Jane Street,” Di Giorgio said to applause. TTC officials have made it clear building above ground is the preferred option.

A centre platform for passengers to board the Eglinton LRT in both directions has been proposed for the west side of the Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue intersection, between stops at Jane Street and Black Creek Drive.

The 33-kilometre-long corridor will provide LRT service across Eglinton Avenue from Kennedy station to Martin Grove Road to Pearson Airport.

The Eglinton LRT line will connect with Kennedy station on the Bloor-Danforth subway line, Eglinton Station on the Yonge subway line and Eglinton West Station on the Spadina subway line. The line will also connect with the future Jane, Don Mills and Scarborough-Malvern light rail corridors.

As it stands now, the Eglinton LRT will operate mostly at surface in the centre of the road with the exception of a short underground section at Don Mills Road.

An underground section has been proposed between Keele and Leslie streets because Eglinton Avenue is not wide enough to accommodate the LRT line above ground and maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction.

The line, which will replace TTC bus service on Eglinton, is expected to provide service every three minutes during peak periods on weekdays and every six minutes throughout the remainder of weekdays and on weekends.

Construction is scheduled to begin this year or 2011.